Monday, May 31, 2021

Misadventures in water

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In my new book, The Last Layer of the Ocean, I describe my uneasy relationship with water. I had always considered myself a land person until I moved to Alaska. There, I was confronted with water: the ocean was a living thing, influencing everything we did. I grew to understand water and to love it. 

Still, I have never felt completely confident in water. I like open water swimming, but I still like to wear fins, and I hug the shore. During a spate of strangely warm days, I convinced myself that swimming season was here. My neighbor's son looked askance when I told him I was going to Kinney Lake to swim. "It's going to be so cold," he warned.

I had touched the water the other day; it felt warm. Brimming with confidence, I drove to the lake to find a bevy of fishermen. Nobody was swimming, but nobody ever did here but me. The fishermen stared as I donned a swimming cap and fins. I had forgotten my wetsuit, but how cold could it be? I launched myself into the water. 

With the first stroke I knew this was a mistake. The water was shockingly cold. I made it a few feet before giving up. The fishermen stared as I crawled shamefully away. At my car, I pondered. I had an old pair of running shoes. I decided to run a few miles in my wet clothes to salvage the day. The fishermen stared as I ran off. 

Ruby thinks the water is just fine.

Okay, so swimming was out. Paddleboarding would have to do. I'm late to the paddleboarding game, because I was always fearful of falling in. I've been surprised to find that it's easier than I thought. My friend Marathon Chick and I paddled serenely across Wallowa Lake. The water is so deep and clear that we could see the bottom--and, unfortunately, the corpse of a deer. It must have fallen through the ice last winter.

We are going to have a few really hot days before the more normal temperatures set in. Do I dare return to the scene of the crime to try to swim again? Will the fishermen once again have something to stare at? Stay tuned...






8 comments:

  1. What kind of fish are in Kinney Lake...besides the larger one with fins and a swim cap, and an swimming dog?

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    Replies
    1. It's stocked. I think with brook trout?

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  2. Love the story! I am such a wimp in the water. I like it WARM! It blows my mind because as a kid I swam in REALLY cold water and loved it!!!!

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  3. I have read some good things about cold water swimming e.g. https://www.theguardian.com/news/2021/mar/23/how-cold-water-swimming-cured-my-broken-heart but I'm sure it takes some getting used to. I have done the cold showers ala The Iceman Win Hof and felt Fantastic afterwards.
    You are braver than I am though, not the cold water, but the audience!

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    Replies
    1. I have heard there are benefits and I want to try it. It's my face! It gets so cold.

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  4. YES to increasing confidence on the SUP and a beautiful lake in which to float. A fb friend in Vancouver posted this past winter about swimming nearly every day in the frigid water. Sometimes for only 5 minutes but was a believer in the cold water wellness. As time went on they were able to stay in a bit longer. I'll skip that treatment!

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